If you are a teacher, group leader or you are involved with a club, find out what climbing can do for your children and young people, and how to get started. We've produced a fact sheet for schools thinking of using climbing a a GCSE option - contact us to request a copy.

Aimed at schools but relevant to all groups, there is an excellent article and video by the BMC that can give you a flavour of the benefits. You can also read some of our success stories.

Our NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering schemes are designed to create a learning environment which not only gives the participants a sense of ownership and belonging but also gives teachers and coaches a sense of purpose to their climbing sessions. NICAS schemes can be used at youth clubs, scout venues, primary, secondary and special schools, colleges and universities around the country. The levels offered will be dependent on the facilities and qualifications held by the coaches.

The schemes create an exciting and inspirational environment for children to engage in climbing and, over time, provide a pathway into climbing which has many benefits to general sport and physical activity, reducing the risk of chronic disease in later life along with all the social skills and confidence building elements that climbing has to offer.
Use your own climbing wall Do you have a climbing wall at your site, and would you like to use it to run NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering? Providing your wall and your coaches meet our minimum requirements then you could register as an accredited centre in your own right. Visit the How to Register as a Centre to find out more.School Group (Source: Sport England)

If you have a climbing wall but no qualified coaches, or if the wall hasn't been used for a while contact your local Primary Centre to see if they can provide coaches, route-setting, training and access to a Technical Advisor. If you'd like to become a climbing coach, look at the Climbing Wall Award syllabus offered by Mountain Training as this is the minimum national qualification.

We have Air Cadets, Schools, Scouts, Colleges, Sea Cadets and many youth groups delivering NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering all over the British Isles. You can even deliver it on a mobile climbing tower.

If you would like a list of UK wall manufacturers who can build an artificial climbing structure for you, have a look at 'Who can build a wall for us?'.
Climb at a local climbing wallUse our map to find your nearest climbing wall (all those listed are accredited to deliver our schemes).

"Climbing is an endless teacher for both body and mind. Just when you think you've grasped the technique you'll climb somewhere different and you'll feel like a beginner again. Just when you feel like you got your head sorted, you'll find yourself mid crux wondering how to stay calm." (Hazel Findlay, NICAS Ambassador)
GCSEs, Duke of Edinburgh and other qualifications NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering have been used to support academic and vocational qualifications since 2008. NICAS can be used to complement the GCSE curriculum for Edexcel, OCR and AQA, while NICAS Bouldering can be used with Edexcel. In Scotland NICAS has been mapped against the Curriculum for Excellence and Significant Aspects of Learning. Many schools and colleges use NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering to fulfil the Physical element of the Duke of Edinburgh syllabus.


"The work the NICAS team have put in with the GCSE exam boards to align NICAS with GCSE PE has enabled us to include climbing as a sport option for students who can find some of the more traditional PE options harder, but who can really excel when given the option to climb. At the same time, it's brought the GCSE climbing syllabus into the 21st century!"
Giles Davis, Harrow Way School

NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering provide a demonstration of personal progression and commitment which can be used in many vocational qualifications as well as academic ones. NICAS has been used as part of Sports Science degree courses, Diploma in Public Services, BTEC in Outdoor Education and some Scouting / Guiding badges. Currently NICAS isn't on the QCF however the elements that make up the GCSE will be on the QCF and could be used so NICAS could be mapped across as the required evidence.

We're working with the exam boards to look at mapping NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering against the A2 and A-level requirements, as a future project. See the current Pearson GCSE PE Indoor Climbing syllabus here. We issued a 2016 update which included bouldering (NICAS Bouldering) which you .

There is a really useful article on UKC which looks at how climbing, including NICAS, is covered in the PE curriculum across the various Exam Boards.

Occasionally, skills required within the curriculum do not map to the NICAS scheme and in this case the skill needs to be achieved as an additional requirement to undertaking the NICAS scheme. We suggest (and AQA state this online) that a pupil should be well prepared and ready for their GCSE if they are working at NICAS Level 3 level.

See our GCSE Guidance for top tips on using climbing as an individual sport as part of GCSE PE.

GCSE Support videosAs part of a GCSE PE assessment it is often required that students are filmed, to support the marking and moderation process. The teacher and climbing coach will need to work together to establish a benchmark of the standards expected and the following videos are intended to assist in this process.

NB: It should be noted that not all of these techniques are ones that we teach within our NICAS syllabus. However for completeness, in order to aid AQA examination assessment, videos have been produced of these techniques.

These videos show a generally high standard of technique and are accompanied with essential notes that critique the students’ performance. here.

You can also view these videos as an album on our Vimeo page here.

Costs and materialsThere are various costs and these vary depending on whether you run the schemes at your own climbing wall, or go to a local climbing wall for instruction.

At your own climbing wall:
  • Registration fee: There is an annual registration fee for delivering our schemes at your own facility - view our current fees on How to register page.
  • Logbooks for your students: Logbook costs vary depending which scheme you are running; however, our suggested RRP is £10 per logbook for NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering, and £15 per logbook for NICAS Wild Climbers. All logbook costs include certificates as candidates achieve each level. Logbooks and the optional binders are not subject to VAT. We offer English, English/Welsh Bilingual, and Accessible Large print formats for Level 1-3 logbooks: contact us for details.
  • Staff induction: All coaches need to receive an induction in order to deliver the Schemes. There is a fixed fee payable for each induction, see our Induction Calendar for the latest information. A reinduction is required every three years for the coach’s approval to remain valid.
  • Expertise: If you are running the schemes at your own facility, you will require a Technical Advisor and a Competent Person who may require payment. You should negotiate this with them direct. Details of how to apply to be a registered centre can be found here

Attending a local climbing wall:
  • It’s a requirement of NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering that everyone has their own logbook, and these are purchased through the accredited centre. The centre will award the certificates upon a pass being achieved.
  • Some centres ask for the climber to buy the logbook as a separate cost, and some include it within a course of lessons or instruction. The cost of instruction will be set by your own centre, not by us, and a session cost may cover entry fees, coaching costs, and use of equipment like climbing shoes or harnesses. Costs for courses vary around the country so ask your centre for details.
  • When a student passes the first three levels there is an opportunity to purchase a separate logbook for the next two Levels – 4 and 5.
  • Your centre might give you the opportunity to buy badges as candidates pass each level – ask your centre if they stock them, and how much they cost.

    Who can build a wall for us? If you don't yet have a climbing or bouldering wall and are wondering where to start, we can point you in the right direction. There are a lot of wall builders available and they can design something which works in the environment and space you have available, making sure it meets the British and European standards (BS:EN 12572). If you specifically want to be able to deliver NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering on your structure then let them know and if they're not sure what's required for each level they can contact us. A handy guide for the physical requirements for each level can be found in our Centre Handbook. Some manufacturers are members of the Climbing Wall Manufacturers Association.

    Many manufacturers can also give advice on route-setting and purchase of suitable holds, ropes, PPE and other hardware.

    Please note: NICAS does not specifically endorse or recommend any manufacturer.

    Beacon Manufacturing (Walltopia)
    Climbing Wall Solutions
    DR Climbing Walls
    Dream Climbing Walls
    Entre-Prises Climbing Walls
    Highline Extreme
    JM Adventure
    King Kong Climbing Walls
    Mock Rock
    Wall Climber
    Zig Zag Climbing Walls

    Our school wall is outdoors, can we use it to deliver the syllabus?

    Yes! Despite the name both NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering are designed to be delivered on any artificial climbing structure, whether indoors or out. There are some restrictions on delivery of the higher levels on structures which are outdoors or exposed to the elements, see the Centre Handbook for details.

    Our school is outside the British Isles, can we deliver your Schemes?

    Where the climbing wall is located in an International or British School with British-qualified climbing coaches and access to a suitably experienced Technical Advisor or Competent Person with UK-based experience, you can apply to become an Accredited Centre. Please contact us for more details. Alternatively we can provide consultancy via independent Technical Experts who can fly out to your school to discuss your options, however the full cost for this must be met by you.

    We have a mobile wall, can we run NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering on it?

    We allow mobile wall providers to offer either NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering Level 1, subject to a satisfactory application. See the Centre Handbook section on Mobile Walls for details.

    I’m a teacher with climbing qualifications, can I deliver the Schemes?

    NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering are approved for specific facilities, not to specific people. If your school doesn't have its own climbing wall then you can complete an induction to deliver NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering at an already-approved wall as a freelance coach, but you will not be a Course Director in your own right and your school won't be an Accredited Centre on its own. Contact your nearest Accredited Centre.

    Can I just buy certificates without the handbooks?

    No, the NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering award levels are a package with the purchase of the logbook being a candidate pre-requisite for each level. However if your students will just be doing climbing as a one-off enrichment experience or a challenge, ask your local NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering centre about the free Participation Certificates which your students can earn.

    Are there age limits for NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering?

    The lower age limit for candidates of both NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering is 7. There is no upper age limit, but the scheme is aimed at the child to young adult sector. There are no maximum times, or limits on the number of attempts a candidate can take to pass a level, so it can be tailored to every student's needs.

    Our service users have additional needs - is NICAS suitable?

    We have worked hard to try to make NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering accessible to all. We have a comprehensive that should enable nearly all candidates to achieve Level 1 over a suitable period of time. Contact us if you would like specific guidance.

    We’re a school / youth group who use a commercial climbing centre. Can our staff teach or assess the NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering levels?

    Your staff, if suitably qualified and inducted, are welcome to teach NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering and conduct some level of assessment. However, the Course Director at the centre you use is ultimately responsible for ensuring consistency and quality of assessment and of candidates, so retains the overall liability for assessment. Only they can sign off and award certificates. More information can be found in the Centre Handbook under “External / freelance coaches”

    Where do NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering sit on the National Qualifications Framework?

    At the moment is doesn’t sit on there at all as it is an award rather than a qualification. This is an area we are exploring further.

    Can we use the Schemes towards our Duke of Edinburgh / GCSE / A-level / BTEC qualification?

    Yes, NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering have been used by our member centres for all of these schemes. Contact us for more information and advice.

    You can find more Frequently Asked Questions on our Contact page.
    Useful links BBC Bitesize: Climbing and classroom ideas

    UK Climbing: Making the grade: GCSE climbing

    Youth Sport Trust Skills2Play cards: Multi-skills approach to learning to climb

    BMC: Making the most of your school wall

    “I have been enjoying working with NICAS since its inception as a great 'engager' and motivator for the students I work with, to really focus on their climbing and enjoy it to the max at such a formative stage in their climbing life.”
    Matt Ostler, Teacher, Sandown Bay Academy
    "I work with the most vulnerable children - yes it can be a challenge but very rewarding. They are all lacking so much confidence in themselves and in what they can do. Just this one activity gives them a boost and I go home with my confidence lifted too in making a difference to these children's lives."
    NICAS Course Director, Level 1 centre

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